Friday, July 9, 2010

The Morehead Planetarium

Sarah C. and I decided to give this a go on one of these hot summer days. Afterall, it is inside, it is free admission, and it is close. Plus, students are gone so we thought it would be easier to do now instead of in the fall.

We knew that with our boys this was a risk and probably beyond their age. But we still wanted to see what it was about and just get out of the house. Well, this kind of turned into a mess. We laughed a whole lot because it was so ridiculous, but it was still a mess.

First, parking was not easy. The pay lot in front of the Planetarium was full. Summer camps. The Planetarium is on UNC's campus, right on Franklin Street, so we had to find on-street metered parking which is limited to 2 hours. But we found some spots, fed the meters, put the boys in their strollers, and rolled in.

Which brings me to point two. This place is most definitely not stroller friendly. We had read that it is, but I can promise you it isn't. We entered in the gift shop, the entrance on the front of the Planetarium. But we were told that was not the place to go with strollers; we had to walk around to the Visitor's Center. We entered that door, and were told that the one theatre was straight ahead but everything else you had to take steps. When we pointed out that steps weren't the best, we then witnessed a conversation between the Visitor's Center workers asking where the elevators were and "if they worked." Hm.

We were fearless, though, so we took the elevator down one level. We spent some time in the Zoom In exhibit, which was a lot of fun! But after that, to get to anything else, you had to take....steps! No ramps, no elevators this time. So Sarah C. and I dragged our strollers around, determined to take in the place. One museum worker took pity on us and actually came to help at one point. This is an old building, dedicated in 1949, so I suppose this is to be expected in some ways.

Third, this place is very much about the movies and the presentations. The Zoom In exhibit was fun, but not large. The other "exhibit" didn't have much at all, just paraphernalia in a glass-cased window to look at.

So I have explained the complications we found. Now let's talk about how you can enjoy the Planetarium. It certainly is a wonderful resource for our community, just must be done right. I would recommend leaving your stroller behind, of course, but beyond that plan a trip where you are taking a school aged child to a movie or a Science 360 presentation. Go for the shows.

The good news is that you can get everything online, and can plan accordingly. The website (see below) lists the shows with descriptions and showtimes (and prices as some theaters require an admittance fee) and is up to date and accurate. We did catch some of the Science 360 presentation and that was great! It was an expert who was very personable walking the audience through weather slides and explaining what they see when they forecast. He was also asking the audience to vote on certain questions using keypads a la Who Wants to be a Millionaire. It was very interactive.

The next best thing about the Planetarium is the summer camps. I have heard that they are great, and they looked like a lot of fun.

Also, the large compass outside is surprisingly entertaining. You can really spend some time there with kids running around.

We would have tried another show but the stroller thing got to be a huge pain. So we decided to take our chances with the heat, and enjoy UNC's campus and get some ice cream.

We decided that when the boys hit 3rd or 4th grade, we'll take them back.

Morehead Planetarium
250 East Franklin Street

Chapel Hill



At July 9, 2010 at 8:08 PM , Blogger HeatherV said...

Thanks for the write up. I have been considering the planetarium but with a stroller and baby in tow, will wait.

I also want to say a friend just pointed me to your blog and I LOVE it. Thank you for making life easier for Triangle moms who want to be out of the house.

At July 9, 2010 at 9:29 PM , Blogger chapelhillmom said...

Hi Heather-
Thanks so much for the compliment, and so glad to know these little write-ups are useful! That makes me very pleased.

Yeah, the Planetarium is something I am proud we have in Chapel Hill, but it definitely is better for older kids!! I'll be taking C when we can enjoy the shows more.


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